Ever since my kids have been old enough to go outside by themselves for even a minute, I’ve been seriously annoyed by door-hollering. Perhaps this happens at your house as well. First, you spend a seeming eternity assisting the the little dears out the door through a cacophony of endless mom-ming: “Mom! Mom, where’s my other shoe, Mom?” “Mom! I can’t find my hat! Mom! ” “Hey Mom, oops, the dog just got out, Mom!” (Really, how is it even possible for every sentence not only to begin, but also to end, with that blessed apellation? )
Then you shut the door behind them with a sigh of relief, and think that maybe you can have just a moment’s peace to finish the cup of tea that’s already been reheated three times, or maybe even to go to the bathroom! by yourself! just because! with no pounding on the door!
Aaaaaand…three, two, one…the door shoots back open, a head pokes in, and the door-hollering begins: “Mom, have you seen my mud boots?” “Mom! I’m bleeding!” And then my personal favorite, which just goes on and on like this: “Mom! Moooooooom! MOM! Mooooooooooooooooom!” until I appear.
Here’s what irritated me the most about door hollering: Don’t these demanding little urchins realize that I have THINGS to do? Doesn’t it ever cross their minds that I might be upstairs, or across the house, or nursing a baby, or in the middle of lunch prep, or otherwise unavailable? Do they think that after I shove them out the door, I sit just inside, waiting to fulfill their next request? They think they can just take me for granted?!
Ahem. So I was remembering what I read long ago in some book or other (quite possibly Divorce Busting) about why divorce can be so devastating to children: because parents, yes, even imperfect and imperfectly matched parents, provide an “invisible structure” that children desperately need, though they’re not even conscious of its presence. Yank that foundation from beneath them, and they topple.
Invisible structure. Hmmm. So. I’m not a vending machine of immediate availabity, and we’re still working on door decorum, but as it turns out, I am here precisely so that I can be taken for granted.* Even when I match the volume of an urgent bug jar request with a cranky “WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP SHOUTING—YOUR SISTER IS NAPPING!”—the invisible structure is affirmed. They know that I’m here, and that eventually I will indeed provide them with an appropriate receptacle for their latest invertebrate acquisition, and so they can carry on with their business of going forth and adventuring about and growing up. (And I’m working on the cranky, too. ;P )
*Although a thoughtfully personalized Mother’s Day card a couple decades down the road sure wouldn’t hurt :D.